Destroy All Humans! PS2 Review

Life is full of unanswered questions, and unless you’ve had an encounter with a strange flying craft or found yourself being probed in areas you’d rather not talk about, then the existence of aliens isn’t assured, so if you haven’t encountered little spacemen before, just keep watching those skies for now. Destroy All Humans! brings an alien life form to home consoles in a 50’s-inspired setting, and he’s depicted as not very friendly at all. We “pathetic humans” should be very afraid.

According to Pandemic, aliens are 4ft tall beings with a voice that sounds spookily like Jack Nicholson’s, they also just happen to like causing huge amounts of destruction. We love destroying stuff too; perhaps that’s why we got on so well with the games anti-hero, Crypto. In fact the latter character is simply one of the best we’ve come across in recent years, thanks to a script that is lovingly heavy on the humour, hearing and seeing a midget alien come out with such lines as “you bet your arse, you will” is certainly one of the hilarious highlights of the game.

The game is rather deceiving at first, as it seems to be another one of those sandbox titles, with an enormous and open game world. This simply isn’t the case as Destroy All Humans! does things the old fashioned way with the game taking place in assorted playing areas as you progress, including human-filled cities (the Whitehouse even makes an appearance!), farms and secret facilities. Levels are lovely and large though, which is great for unleashing destruction on the human opposition and it’s all as equally fun to transverse via Crypto’s brilliant jetpack. It’s just a shame that levels suffer from some horrendous pop-up, something we just don’t expect to see on powerful hardware at such a late stage in life.

It’s not all about destruction though as Crypto is able to take the form of the enemy to mingle amongst the humans without causing major panic and attracting the attention of the police, the army and the FBI like, Majestic. This is simply accomplished by pressing the circle button as soon as you have a target in your sights, which results in some shape shifting antics. To maintain his disguise Crypto must regularly scan the thoughts of passers-by, and unsurprisingly there’s an ample amount of humour to be heard, which makes scanning seem all the more important beyond only a play device. The use of hi-tech alien weaponry and super cool jetpack is simply a no go, at least until you resume your normal angry little alien form.

The missions are pleasingly varied, and do genuinely provide you with some freedom to choose the way you feel best to achieve your task. The truth is that most missions are best accomplished in disguise, but this is made more difficult when areas are often teeming with Majestic agents. These guys can see straight through your disguise if you are in close proximity for too long, this eventually unmasks you and obviously causes widespread panic amongst the inhabitants. While utilising disguises is fun, we found that it’s often more enjoyable to remain true to form and unleash destruction whenever possible.

Some missions involve hovering over areas in Crypto’s saucer, and it goes without saying that you are going to be raining destruction down from the skies. Buildings and military vehicles can quickly become totally decimated with the powerful onboard weaponry, which ranges from the death ray to the almighty Quantum Deconstructor. These sections are thoroughly satisfying, thanks to the potential destruction one is able to cause, with buildings that collapse into a cloud of dust in a very similar manner to Pandemic’s own explosive and excellent Mercenaries.

When in attack and destroy mode Crypto has an interesting, but rather unimaginative arsenal of weaponry. Not forgetting to mention that the little alien is very capable of using telekinesis, and as always the havok physics stands up proud for this very duty. As for the material weapons, at the beginning of the game the Zap-O-Matic (a taser-like firearm) and the anal probe (which is capable of making heads explode) are available for use, but Crypto’s stash is soon expanded to the guilty pleasure that is the Disintegrator Ray and the devastatingly powerful Ion Detonator. The weapons are great fun to use, but where’s the imagination exactly? We were crying out for more otherworldly weapons!

The weaponry can be upgraded between levels in exchange for human DNA. Harvesting the DNA can be done in various ways; you can extract human brains with some very messy brain surgery, but by far the best way to earn yourself some DNA is by completing the games fun, but repetitive side missions. Each area also has a number of probes to seek out (think GTA’s hidden packages) this not only awards you with extra DNA, but also unlocks features upon amassing enough probes. DNA is also needed to progress if you don’t have enough gathered upon completing a mission.

Destroy All Humans! is often hilarious and as equally as enjoyable to play. It’s just a shame that things are all over too soon. When Crypto’s story drew to a close, we wanted to march on and continue destroying more humans, and if that sounds like a recommendation then you would be right. In closure of this article, like Crypto himself, the game is short, but highly memorable in many ways…oh and keep an eye on those skies.